Book Review: John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars
John Green has done it again. His most recent book, The Fault in Our Stars – an honest and touching portrayal of two cancer patients who fall in love – certainly won’t disappoint fans of his previous award-winning work. Green decided to take a different approach by narrating this story from the female character’s point of view rather than the usual male protagonist. However, it’s no less entertaining than what you would expect from him.
16-year-old Hazel Lancaster, a terminal cancer patient, is forced to go to a support group with other “cancer kids” as she calls them when her mom decides she is depressed and needs to make friends. Hazel remains unimpressed by the proceedings until Augustus Waters, an osteosarcoma survivor who lost a leg before defeating the cancer, comes to a meeting. An optimistic character, Augustus enjoys living his life through metaphors, always carrying a pack of cigarettes with him despite never smoking them; he puts the killing device between his lips but doesn’t give it the power to kill. They immediately are drawn to each other through their shared love of language.
Hazel introduces her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, to Augustus and they eventually visit the author, Peter Van Houten, in Amsterdam to ask what happened to the characters after their story ended. Although the trip doesn’t go as planned when they find out Van Houten is not the brilliant man they expected, they are able to enjoy it and learn about each other on a new, exciting level.
Green writes in his signature humorous style even in this book about predetermined death. It’s filled with humorous and witty dialogue that’s never overdone. There is just the right combination of seriousness and playfulness that will appeal to a wide range of readers. At one part of the story, Hazel is sitting in her backyard and notices the old swing set her father built for her pre-diagnosis. She begins reminiscing about her childhood and finds herself thinking that she would give anything for just a few more health days; suddenly, she’s overcome with surprisingly-rare tears. When Augustus calls her in the sad state, they decide to get rid of the swing set as it’s causing unnecessary pain. Hazel immediately suggests the funny title “Lonely, Vaguely Pedophilic Swing Set Seeks the Butts of Children” for their internet ad. In this way, Green has taken something serious and turned it around by having Hazel say something unexpected in the context of her near breakdown.
To put it simply, The Fault in Our Stars is a story that will make you laugh, cry and wish you knew the characters personally so you could give them a big hug. It’s realistic enough to avoid the stereotypical phoniness of your typical cancer novels because it’s not about cancer. The fact that the two main characters have this disease is more of a literary device to move the plot along because they know they have limited time together. The gravity of their situation is not ignored though because Green writes so you truly believe the emotions are real.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in literature filled with memorable characters, natural dialogue and a deep meaning. It will make you remember the story long after you’ve finished reading it.